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Federal Pacific Electric Panels


As a homeowner, you want to ensure that your home is a safe and comfortable place for you and your family. This includes maintaining the electrical system, which is vital for the proper functioning of your house. We are highly dependent on electricity for almost every aspect of our lives, from lighting and heating to powering devices and appliances. This makes it crucial to have a reliable and efficient electrical panel.

In the United States, Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) panels were widely used in homes and properties from the 1950s to the 1980s. In fact, it is estimated that these panels were installed in over one million homes during this time. As a resident of zip code 02908 in Elmhurst, Providence County, you may have this electrical panel in your home. If so, it is essential to understand its potential dangers and how to address them.

At B&K Electric, we are a family-owned and operated electrical business based in Warwick, Rhode Island. As part of our commitment to serving the community, we believe in educating homeowners about potential hazards that may exist in their homes. With over seventeen years of experience, our licensed electricians have been proudly serving residents of Cranston, Warwick, and all of Rhode Island. Our team offers expert electrical repair, panel maintenance, and installation services. Make us your go-to electrician for all your electrical needs in the Warwick area and the greater Providence County.

In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive overview of Federal Pacific Electric panels, including their history, potential dangers, signs of malfunction, and replacement options.

History of Federal Pacific Electric Panels

Founded in 1923, Federal Pacific Electric was a leading manufacturer of electrical panels and breakers. These panels were widely used in residential and commercial buildings due to their affordability and suitability for small spaces. However, it was not until the 1980s that concerns about their safety began to emerge.

In 1982, a series of tests conducted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) revealed significant deficiencies in the performance of FPE panels. The tests found that the circuit breakers failed to trip when they should have, potentially leading to electrical fires and other safety hazards. This led to an investigation by the CPSC and a subsequent recall of FPE panels in 1983. However, the recall was not enforced, and there are still many homes that have these panels installed today.

The Dangers of Federal Pacific Electric Panels

As mentioned earlier, the main issue with FPE panels is their failure to trip, even when there is an overload or short circuit. This means that the circuit breakers may not activate and shut off the power when needed, leading to hazardous situations such as electrical fires.

Electrical fires can cause significant damage to your home and put your family’s safety at risk. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), faulty electrical wiring and equipment were the leading cause of home fires in the U.S., resulting in an average of 500 deaths and $1.3 billion in property damage each year. This highlights the importance of addressing potential hazards such as FPE panels in your home.

Signs of Malfunctioning Federal Pacific Electric Panels

There are some warning signs that indicate that your FPE panel may be malfunctioning. These include:

1. Frequently tripping breakers: If your circuit breakers are constantly tripping, it could be a sign that they are not functioning correctly and that you may have an overloaded electrical panel.

2. Buzzing noises: If you hear buzzing or crackling noises coming from your electrical panel, it could be an indication of a faulty circuit breaker. This noise could be caused by an overload or loose connections within the panel.

3. Warm or burnt smells: If you notice a warm or burnt smell emanating from your electrical panel, it could be a sign of a potential fire hazard. This smell could be caused by overheated breakers or damaged wiring within the panel.

If you notice any of these warning signs, it is crucial to have your FPE panel inspected by a licensed electrician immediately.

Replacement Options for Federal Pacific Electric Panels

So, what should you do if you have an FPE panel in your home? The safest and most effective solution is to have it replaced. This is because the panels were never recalled and therefore are not considered unsafe by current standards. However, they still pose significant risks and should be replaced as soon as possible.

There are several options for replacing an FPE panel, including upgrading to a modern circuit breaker panel or installing a new electrical panel. A licensed electrician will be able to assess your home’s electrical needs and recommend the best option for you.

One important thing to note is that it is not recommended for homeowners to attempt to replace an FPE panel themselves. This task requires a professional with the right expertise and equipment. At B&K Electric, our team has the necessary skills and knowledge to safely replace your FPE panel and ensure that your home’s electrical system is up to code and functioning correctly.

Final Thoughts

Federal Pacific Electric panels were widely used in homes and properties from the 1950s to the 1980s. However, they have been found to be potentially dangerous due to their failure to trip and shut off power when needed. As a homeowner in zip code 02908 Elmhurst, Providence County, it is crucial to understand the risks associated with FPE panels and take the necessary steps to address them. If you have an FPE panel in your home, do not hesitate to contact a licensed electrician for an inspection and potential replacement. At B&K Electric, we are dedicated to providing safe and reliable electrical solutions for homeowners in Warwick and the greater Providence Area.


Federal Pacific Electric Panels,

Electrical Hazards,

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